Lands v. Social Security Administration

Filing 22

ORDER granting 18 Motion for Attorney Fees and directing the Commissioner to certify an award of $2,460.00 in plaintiff's attorney's fees and to pay plaintiff's attorney this amount. Signed by Magistrate Judge Henry L. Jones, Jr on 12/17/08. (bkp)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS WESTERN DIVISION CHRIS LANDS vs. Civil Case No. 4:08CV00200 HLJ PLAINTIFF MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner, Social Security Administration ORDER DEFENDANT Plaintiff has filed a motion for attorney's fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. 2412. She requests $2,460.00 in fees, representing 16.40 hours of work performed by her attorney in 2008 at an hourly rate of $150.00. Plaintiff states the requested rate represents an upward adjustment of the $125.00 maximum statutory rate under EAJA, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(2)(A), based on an increase in the cost of living, as evidenced by the Southwest Regional Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (SW CPI-U)(see attachment to Plaintiff's Brief). Defendant does not object to an award of fees under the EAJA, and he does not object to the number of hours requested, or to the rate requested. In other cases in this District, the court has granted an enhancement of the hourly rate of compensation to $138.00. E.g., Brown v. Massanari, Case No. 3:99CV00458 (E.D.Ark. Sept. 19, 2001); Handford v. Massanari, Case No. 3:99CV00423 (E.D.Ark. Sept. 25, 2001). In those cases, the plaintiffs presented sufficient proof of an 11% increase in the cost of living from March of 1996, when 2412(d)(2)(A)(ii) was last amended, to December of 2000. Plaintiff here seeks an additional enhancement based on an increased cost of living up to 2003. The court has declined in the past to consider an increase in the cost of living beyond December of 2000, and it declines to do so in this case. However, the Office of the General Counsel of the Social Security Administration has entered into agreements with counsel for other plaintiffs in cases in this district to calculate attorneys' fees on an annualized basis, using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The parties in those cases agreed that work performed in 2001 should be compensated at the rate of $138.00 per hour, work performed in 2002 should be compensated at the rate of $144.00 per hour and that in 2003 and thereafter the rate should be calculated using the mid-year CPI-U. Their calculations resulted in an agreed upon fee of $147.00 per hour for work performed in 2003, $152.00 for work performed in 2004 and $156.00 for work performed in 2005. (E.D. Ark. 2006). Cloinger v. Barnhart, 2:04CV 00172 Since Plaintiff's hourly rate request falls within those agreed rates, the court will grant his request for compensation at a rate of $150.00 per hour. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees is GRANTED and Plaintiff is hereby awarded attorney's fees in the amount of $2,460.00 pursuant to EAJA. The Commissioner is directed to certify said award and pay Plaintiff's attorney this amount. SO ORDERED this 17th day of December, 2008. United States Magistrate Judge 2

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